Hate Is The New Love: Nas vs Jay-Z

First off, apologies this week’s Hate Is The New Love is two days late. But I wanted to make sure I got this one on point because it’s an important part of hip-hop history. Now, there’s a lot to take in this week so concentrate.

One of the most celebrated, controversial and contested rivalries since the West Coast / East Coast feud involved mainstream heavyweight Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and the critically acclaimed, fans favourite Nasir “Nas” Jones.

After Illmatic dropped Jay was known to be a big fan of his up and coming colleague and reached out to him and fellow Brooklyn-ite AZ to appear on his Reasonable Doubt’s opening track Put It On. Neither turned up for recordings and after payment problems for Jay’s Dead Presidents sample (Nas’ The World Is Yours), their relationship began to spiral downwards.

Biggie then passed and there was an evidential vacancy of the crown of New York. Many felt it was Nas’ right of passage, however Nas became increasingly introvert (caring for his Daughter and ill mother) whilst Jay tactfully aligned himself with Sean “Puffy” Combs ready for his next LP.

Step up Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. As loyal Queensbridge friend/infamous antagonist, P warned Nas of Jay and his group’s advances and advised Nas to check Jay back in line. Nas played things down and repeatedly brushed Prodigy off.

P began taking shots at Jay and it was at Hot 97’s Summer Jam when Jay publicly aired his Nas / Mobb Deep diss Takeover. (This was also the moment where Prodigy was coined “Ballerina P” as Jay beamed out pictures of him as a youngster in a Ballerina costume). Jay drops some pretty scathing lines but the pick of the bunch:

“ You scribbled in your notepad and created your life
I showed you your first tec on tour with Large Professor
Then I heard your album bout your tec on the dresser
So yeah I sampled your voice, you was usin’ it wrong
You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song. “

It was the wakeup call Nas needed. Nas shot back over Eric B and Rakim’s Paid In Full beat on a track now titled Stillmatic where he makes reference to many of the R.O.C. members. He then addressed issues with Prodigy and others on Destroy & Rebuild but the centrepiece to the beef lies in the realms of Ether: Alongside Ice Cube’s No Vaseline and Tupac’s Hit ‘Em Up, arguably the greatest diss track of all time.

“ What you think, you getting girls now ’cause of your looks?
Ne-gro please
You no mustache having, with whiskers like a rat
Compared to Beans you wack
And your man stabbed Un and made you take the blame
You ass, went from Jaz to hanging with Caine, to Herb, to Big
And, Eminem murdered you on your own shit. “

Once again, there are too many punches to post up but Nas addresses the issues raised about his own credibility, whilst attacking Jay’s. He accuses him of being homosexual and a misogynist whilst poking fun at his looks before finally accusing Jay of biting Biggie’s lyrics and points out how Eminem outshone him on Renegade. Jay’s reaction can be laughed at here.

The teary-eyed Jay was clearly stunned but credit the man because he wasn’t quite finished and came out with SuperUgly. Over Nas’ Got Yourself A Gun and Dr. Dre’s Bad Intentions, Jay raps how he and Basketballer Allen Iverson slept with Nas’ daughter’s mother whilst they were still together. On hearing the bars, Jay’s mother demanded that he apologise to Nas and his family.

Although SuperUgly signalled an official end to the feud, both MC’s made reference to the beef in later work (Nas’ U Wanna Be Me, Last Real Nigga Alive, Everybody’s Crazy and Jay’s Blueprint 2). Amongst the community, the beef was considered as beneficial to both artist’s careers; Nas was struggling to find consistency after the previous success of Illmatic and It Was Written, whilst Jay was considered the underdog and was praised for going up against the lyrically superior Nas.

In 2005 Jay-Z brought Nas out on stage to perform blended versions of Dead Presidents and The World Is Yours. Nas signed to Def Jam (where Jay was president of at the time) and the beef was formally put to an end. They have since collaborated on Black Republican, Success and recently on Ludacris’ I Do It For Hip-Hop.

Beef Winner: In a Hot 97 phone-in poll Nas’ Ether was judged to have outmuscled Jay’s Takeover by a 52% to 48% margin. On the strength of both tracks I would agree, however it was Nas who ended up working under Jay-Z when they both reconciled their differences so I will leave the decision up to you…

Jay-Z – Takeover (Nas & Mobb Deep Diss)

Nas – Stillmatic (Jay-Z Diss)

Nas – Ether (Jay-Z Diss)

Jay-Z – Superugly (Nas Diss)

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9 comments to Hate Is The New Love: Nas vs Jay-Z

  • Francis

    Great article. I think Jay won, purely because of his success after the feud. Illmatic is better than anything Jay has ever done, but Nas hasn’t produced anything close since. After Reasonable Doubt, Jay made both Blueprint and the Black Album, making 3 classic hip-hop albums imo so I think he wins. Oh and I think Takeover is better than Ether.

  • Appreciate the love Francis.

    It it undeniable that Jay in terms of monetary success won the war. But I’m not sure he won the individual battles. You could argue that Nas is respected greater amongst his peers purely on the basis of his lyrical ability. Jay’s critics will be the first to point out the similarities in Jay’s style with Jaz-O, BIG and Big L. Nas, on the other hand, devised his own style which then influenced other artists to come.

    It’s a very valid point about Illmatic eclipsing all of Jay’s discography, but if you’re mentioning Blueprint and Black Album as classics then in my opinion you can’t sleep on It Was Written and Stillmatic.

    And as for Ether / Takeover: Nas edges it ;-)

    But as one of Jay’s biggest critics myself and Prodigy holding a permanent place in my playlists, then I guess I would be biased.

  • I’m on the side of Ether > Takeover too.

    As for back catalogues, I do think Jay probably just about wins it all-round. Nas had the better debut, but Jay’s probably edged it since then, but not by much.

  • I love both artists, Jay-Z in my opinion undeniably has the better catalogue but Nas won this battle. Ether is definitely >>>>> Takeover (as great as Takeover is!). I agree with Francis that Jay has 3 classics to his name and I’m pretty sure those 3 made Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time! Which is all the more impressive as there was a very low % of hip hop albums in that list. Having said that I do think the Nas’ album Stillmatic is a classic, so that would be 2 for him. It Was Written was good, but not on the level of the albums previously mentioned in this waffling comment of mine. If you’re going to include It was Written, then you’d have to include Jay’s Life and times of S.Carter Vol I and possibly American Gangster too.

    As for ability on the mic and song writing at this very moment of time though, I’d probably say Nas is better, purely because Jay-Z broke my heart with Blueprint 3 :(

    In terms of consistency Jay >>> Nas. In terms of who was better at their very peak, then Nas >>> Jay

    p.s. Great article! Enjoyable read, I didn’t actually know that Jay tried to get Nas to do a song with him on Reasonable Doubt!

  • wow...horrible

    This aarticle is written by a stan of Jay and someone who has no life but to consistantly put Jay against Nas as if Nas or jay gives a fuck! Only a bitch ass man would be concerned with such childish shit damn near 10 years later…grow up and move on! And stop counting the next man’ pockets because his money is not yours! Only a man who is insecure about his own finances would be concerned with such bullshit!

  • You might want to read the NATURE of the Hate Is The New Love articles-they’re retrospective looks as feuds of the past. Kind of ironic that you’re talking about insecurity, over-concerning and bullshit when you’ve taken the time to write an essay of your own. What do our personal finances have to do with anything? Merely stating that Jay had more commercial, and hence monetary, success. Better luck next time.

  • @wow…horrible.

    Constructive criticism is something which I happen to take seriously as I believe as a writer in bettering myself and that no-one’s opinion is absolute anyway.

    I do however request the respect that that person giving criticism takes the time to concentrate on the flaws of their own before. A ‘stan’ as you so eloquently put it is usually an ‘obsessive fan’. If I was a ‘stan’ of anyone in this article, would you not be better placed to suggest I was a ‘stan’ of Nas?

    Hopefully, as clearly the true hip-hop Head you are, you understand the nature of hip-hop and where it evolved from? Going with my better judgement I will fill you in. It came from the streets where breakdancing and freestyling against one another in a competitive nature were paramount hence hip-hop beefs are the very essence of the genre. Nas and Jay’s beef is widely considered the second most important feud in hip-hop history. History is important as it reminds us of where we have come from and reminds us where we are going. I am presuming a good education taught you about history? Then again, I guess your spelling and grammar takes care of that question for us too. Perhaps that’s why you’re not a writer…

    But once again, thanks and I’m sure you will be sticking around for the next Hate Is The New Love. Or are you dashing off to watch Jay’s next TV interview on Oprah?


    Wot a bullshit article- totally biased against Jay Z. Yh Nas may have won the battle I’m not denying that. But you honestly mean to tell me Jay was considered the underdog in this battle?- NEVER. NAS WAS THE UNDERDOG IN THIS BATTLE- EVERY1 KNOWS THAT. As far as Nas being a fan favourite- NO initially Jay was nd still is in my opinion- no disrespect to Nas. Although fans of hip hop did declare Nas the winner. The fact that you called Jay Z the underdog in this battle is soo bizzarely wrong and greatly undermines its credibility- BULLSHIT!! NAS WAS THE UNDERDOG- I mean come on he had only recently released Nastradamus

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